What will the judge say if I have a court date for stealing from a store? 39 Answers as of June 23, 2013

I am seventeen and I just received the letter in the mail for my court date. I stole from a store about a month ago and I had to pay the 200 dollars worth of items stolen. I have a court date coming up soon and I am wondering what will happen? What will the judge do or say to me. Will I be put in jail? I've been reading online and it says I could be. This is the first time ever doing anything bad.

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
Your initial and first court-day is probably just an arraignment. The arraigning judge or magistrate will ask you how you wish to plead. The judge will advise you of your rights and the maximum possible penalties.You don't have to say anything; the court will enter your plea as not guilty. Pleading not guilty simply sets the matter for a pretrial/settlement conference. In some instances, the courts will even accept a waiver of arraignment. I would never recommend pleading guilty to something unless you fully understand the consequences. I would recommend retaining an attorney to assist you with this matter or requesting one at your arraignment.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/12/2011
Austin Legal Services, PLC
Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
It's possible you could get placed in jail if you plead guilty or are found guilty at trial, but it's not likely. More than likely is that you will be eligible for a diversion program or HYTA, either of which could keep the charge off of your record if you complete probation or community service. Seek a lawyer for advice for agreeing to anything.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/28/2011
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
You would likely be granted status as a youthful offender and be given probation, or even a possible deferred prosecution.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 9/26/2011
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
You are being charged with shoplift. A conviction carries with it a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. There is mo mandatory minimum, which means if it is your first offense the judge will probably suspend all jail time and impose a fine of several hundred dollars. You won't go to jail provided you comply with all conditions imposed upon you by the court. I am always disappointed when I see a question coming from a person your age. While the court may "go light on you" and give you a "second chance", society is not always so forgiving. A theft (shoplift) conviction on your record can impact your future employment for reason that a theft shows you to be untrustworthy. If you are looking at colleges, a theft conviction could disqualify your application for many colleges and impact your eligibility for financial aid, loans, and scholarships. I would strongly encourage you to retain an attorney, who might be able to negotiate a deal that prevents this from being a permanent part of your record. I can only hope that you learn from this.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 9/26/2011
Donahue, Sowa & Magana Attorneys at Law
Donahue, Sowa & Magana Attorneys at Law | Glenn M. Sowa
Before you go to court, hire a competent criminal defense attorney in your jurisdiction to assist you. With a few exceptions, you should be appearing in juvenile court in your area. The likelihood of you doing any jail time is slim, unless there are other aggravating factors present that you did not mention.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 9/24/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    You are under 18 so your first court date will be to determine if the petition by the prosecution will be upheld. If it is you will be asked if you did it or not. If you admit that you did it then you will probably get probation and maybe some community service.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    You are 17. Take that notice to your parents. They need to retain counsel for you. The first court appearance is an arraignment. There is the judge, the prosecutor, court reporters, and other clerks and police officers. They may set bail and if you do not have it remand you to custody until you come up with bail. But this is just the first of many steps the case is not over on the first court date just starting. This is why you need defense counsel.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Allan & Summary
    Allan & Summary | Justin Summary
    You need to hire an attorney to try and work out a deal that would avoid a conviction being placed on your permanent record.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    First of all you will be prosecuted in juvenile court because of your age. If you received a notice to the contrary you need to make it known at the first court appearance that you are only 17. Once you go to the right court you need to request an attorney to advise you on the local juvenile law practices.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Your first court appearance is an arraignement. At the arraignement, the court will tell you what you are charged with, advise you of your rights including your right to an attorney either retained by you or appointed by the court and lastly will ask you how you plead. An attorney may be helpful in that he/she could explain the process and the possible penalties.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    A theft offense can be very serious. While any theft under $500 is a misdemeanor. Such an offense is still punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. The collateral consequences of a conviction can also be extremely significant and preclude a person from finding employment where background checks are performed. Often, if you have no prior offenses, a conviction can be avoided with a Stay of Prosecution. A Stay of Prosecution means that the offense is never recorded on your record and stayed for a certain periofd of time to ensure that you do not have another offense. We can assist you in making sure that your record is not affected.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    A 1st offense for shoplifting is no more than a fine. You will not go to jail. However, if you van afford it, hire a lawyer who should be able to keep it from being entered as a conviction on your record. You want to be able to tell future potential employers that you have never been convicted of any crime. It is very important.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    The judge will probably tell you to hire an attorney, or appoint a public defender to represent you. You are not looking at jail time, and if this occurred in Illinois, a very good chance you will not get a permanent record out of this.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Hopefully it will be your last time doing anything bad! You should get an attorney. Often the attorney can work something out where in the end you have no record. A theft offense on your record can limit the places that will hire you. Employers usually have enough problems with thieves without hiring them.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    You will most likely face local sanctions in Juvenile Court. This may or may not involve detention, but most counties have diversion programs for first time offenders involved in low level crimes.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    A first time petty theft is unlikely to result in jail time. But jail should be the least of your concerns. You better think about the consequences of having a theft on your record. Theft is a crime of moral turpitude, and if you have it on your record you can forget about gaining any meaningful employment in the next decade of your life. Contact a lawyer is my best advice.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    You will have to appear in juvenile court with a parent or legal guardian. The good news is that it's juvenile court. If this is your first offense, you should be eligible for some type of diversion program. Either your family can hire an attorney to represent you or you can request the services of the public defender when you go to court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    Jail is a possibility - however if handled correctly you could get an alternative sentence that would get you probation , community service; anti theft classes possible fine.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Let's put it this way, as long as you are respectful to the judge then you are as likely to go to jail as being struck by a meteor. But, you need to be represented by an attorney. An attorney can spot weaknesses in the case against you that you would never see and knows how to navigate the system and comply with all procedures. Also, the prosecutor will probably not speak with you directly so no plea bargaining will happen unless you have a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    If this is your first time getting in trouble then you will probably have to do community service.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Bensmochan & Poghosyan, LLP
    Bensmochan & Poghosyan, LLP | Ruzanna Poghosyan
    Your first court appearance will be your arraignment hearing. At that hearing, you will be informed about the charges filed against you (if the value of the stolen property is less than $950, you will most likely be charged with petty theft); the judge will advise you of your Constitutional rights and ask you to enter a plea. You can either enter a plea of "guilty", "no contest" or "not guilty", OR you can ask the judge to continue your arraignment so you can hire an attorney. If you enter a plea of "guilty" or "no contest" at your arraignment hearing, your case will end there. If you enter "not guilty" plea, the Court will give you another court date, which is usually the pretrial hearing in a misdemeanor case. I strongly recommend you to hire an attorney. If you cant afford one, ask the Court to provide you a public defender.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Anderson Law Office
    Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
    Your situation is complicated because of your age. You most likely will be in juvenile court. Most likely you will have to attend and education class, pay a fine and possibly do jail time or community service.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | David C. Ayer
    It is unlikely you will go to jail. It is possible under most statutes for larceny, but the system is generally too overloaded to allow for incarceration over petty offenses. You will likely face some form of probation, with the attendant fees and restrictions on your activities (probably be banned from that store/mall/shopping center for a period longer than your probation). As a juvenile, the offense should not become a part of your permanent, adult record. If, after you turn eighteen, you discover it is on your record you can retain counsel to try to have it expunged (removed).
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    Although the possible penalty for a misdemeanor theft is up to 12 months in jail, I would doubt the judge would impose such a severe penalty for a first offense. I would expect you to receive probation and a fine. Another possible outcome is a diversion. I would certainly ask the prosecutor if you are eligible for a diversion, because if you can successfully complete a diversion, the original charges against you are dismissed and you would not have a conviction on your record. If possible I would advise you to seek the counsel of an attorney before doing anything, just to protect all your rights.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    It sounds like you were charged with Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor. It is punishable up to one year in jail and one thousand dollar fine. However, at least in NYC, it is rare that someone would be sentenced to jail for this. In fact, I have handled a large number of these cases in the NYC area and every one of my clients got a deal where they do not even have a permanent criminal record. Feel free to contact me directly if you have additional questions. Legal disclaimer: All answers are for information purposes only. Answering this question or any future questions does not form any attorney-client relationship. Be mindful, that answers are limited by the limited facts presented by the questioner and are not meant to take the place of competent legal advice by an attorney fully informed of all the facts surrounding your case. However, be aware that nothing posted in a public forum such as this can be deemed confidential or privileged communication.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    If you are 17, the court date should be in Juvenile Court. You might be eligible for alternatives to prosecution such as diversion or for a deferred adjudication.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You should retain an attorney if your parents can afford $1,500 as this is the minimum fee for most simple cases. If you cannot afford an attorney the judge will appoint one for you. A good attorney will get the case dismissed with an ACD, but a public defender may not be able to get those results. You want to avoid having to use your Youthful Offender Treatment status since you can only use it once before you are 19 years of age. Life is about making good decisions, getting a good education, and making connections with other people. You will need a good reputation, social skills, and a good job. this will all be hurt if you get a criminal record. Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/22/2011
    Correia-Champa & Mailhot
    Correia-Champa & Mailhot | Susan Correia Champa
    Normally for a first offense the Judge is not likely to put you in jail. It is also helpful that you paid restitution to the store. Most likely you will need to pay court costs and hopefully the Judge will either dismiss the case upon payment of costs or place you on a short term probation and if you complete the probation period without further incident then it would be dismissed. I suggest you contact an attorney for further consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/22/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    Since you are a minor, you are probably being processed through the Juvenile Court system. You should be eligible for 'Informal Probation', pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 654. If you were being prosecuted as an adult, I would urge you to negotiate for an infraction.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/22/2011
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    The answer to your question depends upon whether you are charged in a municipal (city) court or in state court. If this is your first offense, any jail is unlikely.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/22/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    The question is not what the judge is going to say to you but what you are going to say to the judge. If you say the wrong thing, you will go to jail which is why I recommend that people retain an attorney when there is criminal trouble.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/22/2011
    Law Office of Maureen Furlong Baldwin
    Law Office of Maureen Furlong Baldwin | Maureen Furlong Baldwin
    If you are 17, you would either go to Juvenile Court or have the matter handled informally by the Juvenile Probation Department. It depends on your county's policy. If the matter is handled informally by the Probation Department, you will not even go to court. So if you have a court date, and this is a first offense, there could be community service, deferred entry of judgment, etc. On the other hand, if you have a juvenile record, the consequences depend on that record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/22/2011
    Peter Duarte, Attorney at Law
    Peter Duarte, Attorney at Law | Peter Duarte
    Since you are under 18 years old, you will be in juvenile court. More likely you will not go to jail. you may have to attend some counseling program or possibly do some community service. Your parents will need to attend the hearing. you can hire an attorney or the public defender's office will be appointed. The judge will want input from the probation officer on a recommended disposition of your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/22/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Its unlikely you'll do any jail time for such a crime. Instead, you'll likely have to do a program about shoplifting and pay a fine. Hire an attorney to handle the matter for you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/22/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Given your age, I would assume you are charged in juvenile court. Chances are good that you will be offered some kind of diversion so it is not likely that you will do any jail time.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/22/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    You will not likely face any jail time on a first offense, particularly because the matter will be in juvenile court. Potentially you are looking at probation, possible a fine, and maybe some community service.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/22/2011
    Keyser Law Firm
    Keyser Law Firm | Christopher W. Keyser
    You realistically will not face any jail time for this offense, especially if it's your first offense. You could be ordered to complete some community service or perhaps even a theft-education course. You will also be on probation potentially. The key for your case is not jail but rather keeping your record clean. I suggest shooting for a resolution whereby your case is dismissed after some period of time.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/22/2011
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